Back in college my freshman year I had an elective speech class, you know those mandatory classes before you get into the major courses.
I don’t remember exactly what the specific topic for this week was but of course I somehow found a way to write creatively for this assignment…
*Fun fact I strongly dislike formal writing, especially research papers.
While I still have no idea where this piece of work is at the moment I know I shared my relationship to those who were listening about my hair and I.
Growing up, my mother always did my hair or paid someone to style it: braids, twist, ect. I’m not sure at what age I first got a relaxer but after a while I was tired of it being a monthly activity, and having to deal with the rough in-between stage. I remember sitting there twitching in my seat as it burned my scalp but it was the price I had to pay… if I wanted my hair to be laid. A nick-name for a relaxer was crack, being that I needed a fix every month.
Before I decided I no longer wanted to get perms, I decided I wanted to style my own hair. My mother still assisted in the crack application but in 5th grade, I became the stylist. I had specialty hairstyles too! There was: The Low Pony Tail, The Mid-Way Pony Tail,
The High Pony Tail (there was no high pony tail because my kitchen would fall off the pony) The Banana Clip, Straightened with a part to the middle, and Straightened with a part to the side.
*Kitchen is defined as the tight coily hairs at the bottom of your hair line or the hairs that do not make it into the pony tail because they are too short.
I grew up in Prince George County Va, where there is land, neighborhoods, and big trucks with mufflers. Our school system is diverse in my opinion only because we are located near the military base, Fort Lee, however the longtime residents of Prince George County are predominately Caucasians. With that being said you can imagine the ethnical representation in the class rooms. It’s kind of weird to say, but it is my truth… there is one time I use to wish I was White and that was in 5th grade. It was because everyone at the time had cliques and their specified group of friends. I got along with basically everyone as I do now, but it was as if I didn’t fit in. I always had to insert myself rather than just automatically be included and because of the ethnical representation the groups I am referring to was mostly white children. I remember being on the swing by myself swinging and in my own thoughts… it was almost time for a fix, my relaxer. The girls next to me too were swinging and I remember being fixated on their hair. How their hair rose in the wind as they swung forward, and gracefully fell and spread across their back as they came back down. Beautiful I thought.
Then I centered my thoughts back on self… comparing at this point. Sometimes a dangerous thing but I guess a pivotal point for me.
I realized that my pony tail ( because I had been doing my own hair and only had 5 styles) too had rose with the wind when I swung forward. The difference was that it never came back down. She (miss pony) was stuck in a horizontal position and there was nothing graceful or beautiful about that.
I then thought there has to be another way. I don’t want to get burned by a perm any more, I don’t want to go through the stiff hair stage anymore, the dark before the dawn. I don’t want to continue to change, change something that’s naturally me, just to be more like someone else.
At the time my mom thought it was absurd but gave me the blessing to “go natural” resting assured that it would save her money and that I would be in this battle alone! I took the challenge and it was a challenge. Through my 6th and 8th grade year I was in transition attempting new hair styles the natural way with my straight permed ends trailing close behind. I chose not to do the big chop because I was not ready for all of that. One major change at a time.
I am so grateful I decided to do the transition at a younger age because at the time it wasn’t a popular movement. I was literally the only one I know doing it and even though I looked crazy, people in school thought it was cool .. and different. By the time I hit 10th grade I had the hang of things and it was normal.. Courtney was natural. I then started having people approach me for tips on how to make their transition.
That speech I wrote eventually was extended and made into a poem. A poem I performed my senior year in college at an open mic. I remember saying something like my hair doesn’t need to be relaxed because everything about it in itself is cool. I remember explaining how it would take me 3 hours to do my hair every night only to undo it the next morning but those 3 hours were needed quality time. Time I needed to learn my hair, to learn myself and build that trust and love. I can now get her done at night within an hour and I’ve learned how to preserve my styles to last for days. My hair is my crown, no matter what style I wear it . The words beautiful and graceful can’t even begin to describe all that she, my crown, we embody.
Ultimately I wanted to be White to fit in to the environment I was in, and for my hair to flow as theirs do… but really all I needed was the right flat iron! Now I can do it all, straight, curling, kinky. One of my favorite things I love being asked when my hair is straight is “ I thought you were natural” Oh I am my love!
As far as fitting in… I was never made to, so I stopped trying and created my own lane.